When you think of home improvement, concrete may be the last material to come to mind.
Concrete is typically seen as a commercial material. But thinking concrete only works in industrial applications limits its potential.
In fact, concrete is a dynamic canvas for your home. The many applications of concrete include:
- Pool Construction
- Retaining Walls
- Basement and Garage Floors
- Kitchen Countertops and Flooring
Concrete is a superior investment over other building alternatives. Not only can it be used in several applications, but it provides numerous benefits for homeowners looking for a strong return on investment, style, and convenience.
Here are the top advantages of using concrete in your home:
According to the American Concrete Pipe Association, concrete is the world’s most commonly used building material. Concrete is a top choice for projects because of its durability.
Why is concrete durable?
Concrete is a mixture of paste, aggregates (rock, sand, or gravel), and Portland cement. The cement used is normally in a powder form and acts as a binding agent when mixed with water and aggregates. When these components are combined, the end product is concrete mix. After pouring, the mix will harden into durable material.
Concrete has the durability and strength of rock tailored for your home. This material naturally withstands water, weather, and defends against regular wear and tear. Admixtures are added to the mixture to address the specific needs of the project.
In commercial applications, concrete is used to build durable buildings that will not rust, decay, or burn. You can have this same endurance in your home when you use concrete.
Concrete floors are a perfect case study. Other flooring materials such as carpet will need to be replaced at least once every couple years. Concrete will rarely, if ever, need to be replaced.
If your kitchen floor is a high traffic area, concrete is an attractive option.
Concrete countertops are also a popular choice for homeowners looking for a long lasting component for your kitchen. While other materials like granite or tile are available, concrete offers several key advantages. Concrete can handle the wear and tear of a busy kitchen. You don’t have to worry about scratches or dents from sharp objects, and concrete is naturally heat-resistant.
For outside of your home, concrete driveways are also built to last. Quality concrete driveways can last 30 years with basic maintenance. Other materials such as asphalt will need regular sealing coats to try to slow the deterioration rate. Even with regular sealing, asphalt driveways will not last as long as concrete. Unlike concrete, asphalt is made from combining byproducts of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene meaning it’s not nearly as durable.
Concrete also provides a solid foundation for home pools. Concrete, also known as gunite for swimming pool applications, gives homeowners practically unlimited design options without sacrificing durability. Concrete pools are created by excavating a hole and installing steel bars to create a framework grid. When the grid is complete, workers spray the concrete mix to coat the rebar. When the concrete is set, your home will have a professional-grade pool that will last for years.
Along with its durability, concrete provides homeowners an unrivaled breadth of versatility in design and functionality. Concrete can be used in, out, and around your home. It’s now even a popular choice for new home construction.
Concrete is versatile because it can be used in so many applications around the home and its appearance can be easily customized to match the application.
Concrete finishes allow homeowners to tailor the appearance to best fit their home. Some of the finishing options for concrete include:
- Integral Color
- Colored Hardeners
Adding different aggregates can also provide different types of texture and levels of shine. Along with these design options, concrete is easy to clean, repels water, and can retain heat to help with your energy bill.
When using concrete for your home, it’s important to select the right kind of finish depending on the area. For example, concrete floors are a great choice for homeowners because they provide endless customization. While concrete flooring may sound cold or uninviting, the right finish will give the concrete in your home the perfect look.
For a modern home, concrete floors with a glossy finish enhance the contemporary look. A traditional design can use warm, earthy stains to complement vintage furnishings. Brown concrete floors are one of the most popular options because they provide the same warm effect of wood, but with easier maintenance.
Some high-tier finishes can even make your concrete floor look like marble which provides a sophisticated aura to any living room or dining room.
There are other surprising benefits to using concrete inside your home. If you ever want to sell your home, the next homeowners are not locked into concrete floors. They can place carpet or wood directly over the concrete. Concrete is also a solid alternative to carpet for several reasons:
- Stain and Odor Resistant – If you own a home, you already know the mess children and pets can make. If your pet urinates on regular carpet, it can leave a lingering smell long after it has been cleaned because it seeps into the material. When concrete is sealed, the sealant is a barrier from stains and odors.
- Easy to Clean – During a party if a guest spills a glass of red wine, you don’t have to scramble to clean it before it makes a major stain. Concrete floors just need water and gentle soap for cleaning.
- Allergy Resistant – Even with regular cleaning, carpet can almost double in weight from air particles. Unlike carpet, concrete can’t trap dust, dirt, or allergens.
Concrete is also smart choice for exterior applications. Outdoor kitchens continue to grow in popularity due to homeowners’ desire to entertain without leaving the house. Backyard kitchens equipped with cooking stations, sinks, and bars need a higher level of protection from the elements without sacrificing style.
Concrete countertops and floors are good choice for outdoor applications because they provide durability and versatility. Whether you’re creating a modern, classic, or tropical design, concrete can work in a variety of themes:
Modern – Concrete and modern designs are a perfect match. Modern outdoor kitchens include clean, crisp lines with subtle hues. Concrete naturally comes in soft grays and has a minimalist feel.
Rustic – For a rustic look, use stained concrete and textured finishes to complement a country home design.
Tropical – You can enhance the look of your tropical themed outdoor kitchen by incorporating concrete with tan finishes.
The possibilities for concrete are endless. Even with traditional applications, such as driveways or basement floors, homeowners still have a variety of design options. For garage floors, your design can range from classic gray to an intricate color scheme that mimics granite or wood. Epoxy floor treatments are not only attractive but are extra tough to keep out oil stains.
Concrete driveways offer more versatility compared to asphalt or blacktop driveways. Decorative concrete is an easy way to add curb appeal to your home with geometric designs and shapes.
One of the best traits of concrete is its easy maintenance. Although quality concrete work can last decades, it only needs relatively minor care.
The most important step is maintaining your concrete is to make sure you hire experienced concrete contractors that only use quality concrete. If you are interested in hiring a concrete contractor, but not sure where to start, read these tips on how to choose the best contractor for your needs. There are also several directories available online to find contractors near you.
After your concrete is installed, taking care of it is a breeze.
Indoor concrete flooring only requires weekly mopping with water and gentle soap. Since you don’t have to buy special chemicals for cleaning, use liquid soap or mild floor cleaners you have at home already. Stronger cleaners like ammonia or bleach are not necessary and can actually damage the finish on indoor concrete.
For your outdoor concrete, make sure to reapply sealer as necessary. Generally, you will need to reapply sealer once every two years. But the exact frequency depends on the weather in your area as well as the traffic entering and leaving your driveway. Always feel free to contact your local concrete contractor for specific advice on sealing. When reapplying sealant, you can find professional grade products from concrete supply stores or home improvement stores.
To clean outdoor concrete, use a power washer and gentle soap. If you do not have a power washer, you can rent one from a home or garden store. Or set your water hose to the strongest setting. When cleaning, spray in wide strokes to remove all dirt. Don’t forget to spray corners and edges as well. In the case of an oil spill, you may need to purchase specialty cleaning products.
In the winter, use sand instead of salt to melt snow. Rock salt will eat through your sealer more quickly. When shoveling, don’t use shovels with sharp metal edges that can scrap the sealer.
Despite concrete’s durability, the average driveway is not built to support industrial construction equipment or heavy vehicles. Keep this kind of equipment on the street if possible.
When it comes to other building materials, few others are as sustainable and eco-friendly as concrete. Asphalt contains nonrenewable products such as petroleum, but concrete is made from natural sources including water, rocks, and cement. Other materials found in concrete come from waste byproducts from other industries. Power plants, mills, and other industrial companies produce ash and slag. These materials are used in cement and aggregates.
Concrete can also conserve energy. According to the American Concrete Pavement Association, up to 27% of light falling on a concrete surface will be reflected, compared with as little as 5% of light from asphalt pavements. Homes incorporating concrete walls, foundations, and floors are also energy efficient. The thermal mass of concrete means it will better insulate against outside temperature fluctuations helping you maintain stable heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
Concrete can help you save on your outdoor lighting bill by reflecting more light. If your concrete driveway or countertop ever needs to be replaced, it can be recycled for future concrete projects.
Concrete’s longevity is another environmentally friendly advantage. While other materials deteriorate over time, require more maintenance, and require more frequent replacement, concrete lasts. A properly set concrete driveway can last 30 years. Because concrete does not need to be replaced as often as other building materials, less raw products are consumed.
Another reason why concrete is a sustainable choice is that it’s manufactured locally from local suppliers. This regional availability reduces long distance shipping and transportation costs. Less time and fuel is required to move concrete so there is a smaller environmental footprint.
Concrete produces minimal waste as well. Concrete is made in just the right amount needed for each project, eliminating overproduction and waste.
While commonly viewed as a commercial building material, concrete has several valuable benefits for homeowners. For residential applications, concrete provides:
Durability and strength to withstand both everyday and extreme conditions. Whether it’s countertops or driveways, concrete is built to last. Concrete countertops outperform other materials such as granite when it comes to withstanding wear and tear from cooking. Concrete driveways can last decades and are designed to handle constant traffic.
Versatility for every area inside and outside of the home. Concrete flooring and countertops are an attractive addition to your kitchen, bathroom, and other living areas. Concrete garage and basement floors provide long-lasting protection. Stains, design, and patterns are readily available for you to customize the look of your concrete.
Maintenance for concrete is a simple process. Once set, outdoor concrete only needs periodic cleaning and sealing. Indoor concrete is even easier to maintain using a mop, water, and gentle soap.
Sustainable building materials like concrete save energy, money, and time. Concrete is made from renewable resources and can be recycled down the road. Since concrete can last decades, less materials are needed to replace it. Concrete can also lower your home energy’s costs. Lastly, concrete is sourced from local suppliers who can produce the exact amount needed for each job.
Concrete consistently outperforms other materials in residential applications. Let us show you how beautiful concrete can be! To learn more about how you can incorporate concrete into your home, contact our team of professionals today.